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July 14, 2013

Movie Review: Castle Freak (1995, Blu-ray)

Stuart Gordon's splash onto the horror genre scene in the mid 1980's with the superb film incarnations of H.P Lovecraft's short stories, Re-Animator and From Beyond was truly a thing of beauty. They had scares, heaping doses of splatter and surprisingly fun bits of humor throughout the films. Both movies literally made genre fans slip and slide on the ooey, gooey genius of the horror icon.

Both From Beyond and Re-Animator were produced through Charles Band's Empire Pictures, these critical successes paved way to a nice solid career that led to other, different projects. One such project, with Charles Band again and his Full Moon Features Company was Castle Freak. After hitting both VHS and DVD this uplifting story about a slobbering, grunting, flesh-eating cretin living in a castle basement is now on glorious Blu-ray.

Gordon regulars Jeffrey Combs and the always lovely Barbara Crampton play John and Susan Reilly, a couple visiting a castle they inherited. Along for the ride is their blind daughter who isn’t exactly at “home” in the not-so safe confines of this daunting structure. Apparently a deformed man who has been horribly abused for years is living downstairs in their basement – it isn’t soon after the family’s arrival that he breaks through his shackles to go on a bloody rampage through the dark passageways and living quarters of the castle.

Minor Spoiler -

Castle Freak looks very nice here on Blu-ray. It really has the look of many of the better old Italian horror films, so it’s nice to see that the colors are brought out more, and looking sharper than what previous versions. This also appears to be uncut. The extremely graphic murder of the prostitute by the "Castle Freak" looks as bloody as ever presented on this HD release. Full Moon has also thrown in some interviews and behind-the-scenes. All are cool but it would have been nice to hear a Stuart Gordon commentary.

Full Moon has done an excellent job with what may be the most underrated film of Gordon’s career. Castle Freak is moody, grotesque and showcases some solid performances by Crampton and Combs, so give it a shot if you want something from Full Moon that isn’t as playful as The Puppetmaster series and other offerings from the company. Recommended.

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